What does the perfect day on the Cape with friends look like?

Everyone wake at your own pace, do what you need to do in the morning to get yourself going.  For me that means saddling up the girls (you know I mean the dogs right…) and walking straight down Belmont to the beach.  It’s a bit under a mile; we walk the length of the beach once we get there, and then back.  It’s a great walk and the girls get out all their excess energy so the day is very relaxed.  Take off my shoes outside the back door and head for the espresso machine.

I have had my share of espresso machines over the years, I even purchased one to keep on the Cape (that is a story in itself), but the one I have now is awesome. Showed everyone how to use it, one touch, hot espresso with a beautiful crema, separate milk aerator and you are golden in under a minute.  Only problem is the amount of coffee I drink now could fuel the entire town of West Harwich. 

Linger over coffee, talk and laugh and talk some more.  Consider breakfast and then all of a sudden we have places to go.  We have a plan; pack up the beach fah fah, off to the Buckey’s for breakfast-to-go (you know mine turned into lunch and afternoon snack) and over to Pleasant Road beach we go.  I love Pleasant Road beach, its big enough to spread out, long enough to take a walk and stretch your legs after sitting for hours.  Yep hours.  And it has a bathroom, just sayin, all that coffee has to go somewhere.

It was a perfect September beach day on Monday, low seventies, bright but not searing sunshine, and no wind just a bit of a breeze.  None of us were in bathing suits but rolled up sweats, tank tops and a hoodie (just in case) filled the bill perfectly. We talked, we read, we walked, we slept and we didn’t leave until late afternoon.

Off to the store to buy ingredients for dinner, back to the house to pour the first inch of the day and start cooking.  I love cooking with friends, the whole chopping and prepping, sharing of duties in the kitchen really jazzes me up.  I learn so much from cooking with friends about food, about cooking techniques and about them.  Dinner is served on the deck, wine is flowing, animated conversation naturally follows and the day slowly comes to an end.

There you have it, the perfect day on the Cape with friends.

Bestie’s, Wi-Fi and Lobster

What an amazing combination.  Joining me this time on the Cape are two of the most amazing women I know.  I’m pretty sure you know them by now too.  What a year it’s been for both my Summer Sister Kyle and my best friend Sandra.  But not to worry, they’ve come to the Cape where all is right with the world, if only for a few days, to be with me and my little (ok big) rescue girls Toto and Lina.  I can’t begin to tell you the pleasure it gives me to have them here for the first time in so long.  I just cannot stop smiling at seeing them in the same room at the Cape.

I had a wonderful ride down with Sandra where we caught up on all things big and small.  Kyle would join us later after visiting with her childhood friend in Connecticut, yet another amazing woman who I have the pleasure of knowing.

Kyle and Sandra know each other but not yet well enough to call themselves friends.  They are both the kind of women that can make themselves and others comfortable in any situation and true to form they/we created a relaxed atmosphere of sharing everything from fashion to housing to business to reading to health and wellness that would bring us all closer together.  So amazing are they that even the quiet moments were not the least bit uncomfortable.   I’m reminded of the old saying that the best kind of friend is one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve ever  had.  I have been on the porch with each of these women and now we know we can sit on the porch/beach together and feel the same way.

And of course there would be food and wine.  You’re shocked I know. For many years Kyle and I would find ourselves on the Cape after a logistical free for all that would mean her flying to a few airports and me picking her up at some tiny little airport along the way or driving in separate cars or driving all the way down to me so that we could drive all the way up to the Cape.  Sounds crazy, but so strong was the need to get together for the hug and the face to face how-you-been that we just made it work.  The carrot at the end of the stick was the drop the bags and head to the Squire first night in.

Isn’t it funny that upon arrival I zero in on a wireless modem in the entertainment unit?  I have been begging my friends, the Cronins, to put in wireless for years.  I think they wanted to insure anyone visiting the Cape would not have the distraction of email, internet, and technological blah blah but oh what a pain in the butt it was to drag everything to the Dennis Library to connect.  I have the kind of job that it’s just me doing this little program so it’s to my advantage to check in at least once or twice a week when I’m away.  Being overwhelmed at the end of a vacation by the sorting and answering of email can cause the good effects of that vacation to dissipate into thin air.  So there it was, let’s connect…of course I can’t figure out the pass key and have to drag Terry over to translate. Thank God he recorded the Pat’s game or we would have waiting just a bit longer.   The advantage of wi-fi became evident in the sharing of sites, the checking of Facebook and the overall relief of all of us being able to “lurk”, as Kyle would call it, on what was going on back home.  We would all be able to retain the good effects of this little vacation once we got home.  So once again, thank you Cronins for putting in wi-fi on Willow.

So anyway, we arrived on the Cape pretty close to each other and we dropped the bags, ok maybe we opened the wine and plugged in all our devices first, and piled into the car and headed for the Squire.  The Squire is that place in the middle of Chatham that draws you in and feeds you well.  I feel they have one of the best clam chowdah’s on the Cape.  The draw for Kyle and I has always been the lobster.  We don’t even get changed from the trip because you know you’re just going to be covered in lobster drippings and butter and clam juice up to your armpits and frankly they don’t care what you look like at the Squire.  No amount of sani-wipe will get rid of that smell, although I’ve taken to using the lemon to clean up and that seems a bit more pleasant.   They don’t rush you, probably because you’ve been waiting to be seated for about a half hour. They treat you like neighbors even though they know you’re probably just here on vacation, they wouldn’t chance your feeling unwelcome.  And the lobster is always spot-on delicious.  That is the way to start your vacation on the Cape.  Fully satiated, back to Willow where three women who shared wine, lobster and good conversation could not share another word because they were so exhausted.  I won’t tell you what time it was we all retired to our rooms with our devices and probably all wound up with our reading glasses at the end of our noses sound asleep….


p.s. By the way that is not water in front of Sandra but Beefeater and tonic, just saying….let the girls weekend begin.




p.s to Toto, Lina and the Boxer

The girls now have yellow ribbons on their leashes.  Although the number of times they crank up gets fewer and fewer I want to keep them safe.  It’s a small gesture for two very good little girls who will eventually outgrow their fears and relax.  For those of you who know and love the girls you know they are trying hard everyday to live up to their potential.  In the scheme of where they started to where they are now, I can only hope to accomplish such strides in my own life.

Pass this along so that we can all relax.  Thanks to Shawn Stewart (www.dogsareeasy.com) and The German Shepard Dog Community (http://www.facebook.com/TheGSDC?ref=stream) for starting it on its rounds.


Toto, Lina and the Boxer

Sunday mornings always seem to hold something special for me.  Today we got out on our walk only to meet up with the Boxer.  It’s not unusual, we always seem to meet up with the Boxer but it hasn’t always been pleasant.

By now you should all know that Lina and Toto are my two rescue dogs originally from Little Rock Arkansas.  We had a rough start but thanks to our dear Uncle Shawn (www.dogsareeasy.com) we have a pretty nice life.  Except for a few minor, occasional, OK maybe more than occasional, run-ins with another dog we’re pretty well adjusted.  Don’t get me wrong it’s mostly a lot of noise but we seldom get close enough to find out what really might happen…Until now.

We see the Boxer and her owner almost every morning.  If I say good morning, in that singing kind of way that annoys the entire world, we usually don’t even hear a peep out of my girls and all is well.  Shawn made it perfectly clear that every time I say “Oh shit” in my head it goes right down the leash and everybody’s on alert. It’s true, I know it’s me.

So sometime last week we gave it a try.  I put the girls behind me and said hello to the Boxer.  She is a sweet thing and pretty skittish too having been bitten by a few dogs herself.  Ok, who’s tail is wagging the hardest, of course Toto.  She is the more social of my two, the more trusting, the least afraid.  Lina’s just hangin behind Mama doing the big shake.  Ok honey you stay there.  So Toto says hello to the Boxer’s owner.  At this point I still don’t know anyone’s name.  She does her best aren’t-I-the-cutest-thing-you’ve-ever-seen and all is good.  Now for the Boxer introduction; I let the leash slack just a bit and they were nose to nose tails wagging furiously and Lina stayed right behind me doing the big shake.  I move to the side and Lina tries to lunge.  No chance of that happening, I have some of the strongest arms and shoulders you will ever meet.  I can’t thank the Boxer and her owner enough for their patience and for being kind enough to try.

The days pass, there are no further meet ups but there are also no further incidents from opposite sides of the street.  I’m calling this a true win.  I’m thrilled.  Then several days later we’re coming down the street and out of the side street come the Boxer and her owner and another person with a Pit puppy.  Now you know I said “Oh shit” in my head but the funniest thing happened.  Toto, Lina and the Boxer did the lunge.  Oh no, we’ve corrupted the Boxer.  The Pit gets dragged around the corner (I remember full well what that is like) and calm comes over the block.

Now it’s Sunday morning and we’re on our way to do the loop.  Here come the Boxer and her owner towards us.  Ok this is new (I did not say Oh shit in my head, I know you were thinking it) so let’s see how we do.  We both come to a stop with our dogs behind us.  Toto does the first peek around (I know you’re shocked by that) and goes right up to the Boxer’s owner, tail wagging, sitting waiting to be petted.  Lina is still behind me doing the big shake.  The Boxer makes her way around her owner and here we are again, nose to nose and my Toto starts crying she’s so damn happy.  It’s what she does, just a bit embarrassing but ok it’s better than the lunge.  Lina, she’s still behind me doing the big shake.  Now we’re actually having a conversation right on the corner of Stowe Lane, I can’t contain myself I’m so damn happy.  Let’s try bringing Lina into the mix, Toto is calm and playing, she takes her cues from Toto so what’s the worst that can happen.  She wants to lunge, put her in sit.  Talk some more, try it again, she tries to lunge.  Her tail is wagging a million miles an hour but all I can hear in my head this time is Shawn telling me not to be fooled.  She may be wagging her tail but she might just be happy because she wants to bite someone.  I never mess with Shawn’s words of wisdom so back in sit, behind me she goes.  Thankfully she’s no longer doing the big shake, I’m calling that progress. We talk a bit more and Steve (finally introduced ourselves) is a really patient guy and I am so grateful that he’s willing to help me get these girls over their last hump.  He assures me that they will be fine and before he goes on his way I ask him what his Boxer’s name his.

Her name is Karma.  Of course it is.


Side by Side

I had an interesting interaction with two of my male friends today that left me wondering…one was having a day and didn’t want to interact in the normal way these two had established in their relationship.  The other didn’t seem to care and bordered on disrespectful by saying now I have to go at you even more.  What is that?

So I decided to ask the one who was having none of it why he acted that way, why did he seem to me to be disrespectful to his/our friend.  I got the standard, that’s how men are routine.  Really?  So now I’m curious, what does male friendship look like?  Not from my point of view because as soon as a female enters the mix another side of men seems to emerge. More on that later.

In all I’ve read, and that’s not all that much, the difference between male friendships and female friendships can be boiled down, according to a post by Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness.com, and pictured as two women facing one another, while male friendships can be symbolized as two men standing side by side, looking outwards.  The irony of that is the two men were seated side by side when this all unfolded.

It can’t possibly be news to men that the deeper your social connections, the longer and happier you live.  Intimate social ties reduce the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol.  People who have the strongest friendship ties over a nine year period cut their risk of death by more than 60% according to one study noted by Deborah Tropp on Askmen.com.  The irony of a women posting on Askmen.com is not lost on me.

So what is male friendship?  How did it evolve to the name calling, activity oriented, and no-feeling lack of intimacy thing it’s become?  To hear the McKays describe it from heroic (noble and intense and intellectual) to 19th century deep feeling daily interaction filled with sentiment in the style of Theodore Roosevelt perhaps. Then the 20th century transformation to fear of being called gay with sentimentality appearing incompatible with manhood, increased mobility resulting from industrialization and relationship shifts toward shared pursuits and no male role models except those from the military where men (to this day) understand the bond needed to keep one another alive.  It screams buddy system.

So can men have meaningful friendships?  Many believe that they can, I believe they can because I’ve spoken with many men who seem to me to be quite deep and feeling and capable of intimacy.  The key there is they are talking to me and men usually feel comfortable showing that side of themselves to women.  After all, it’s one of our greatest attributes.  We know how to outwardly do friendship.

So what does a man to man friendship look like?  In all their name calling (hey jackass, apparently a form of endearment) they know how to show up.  They don’t show up ready to listen necessarily although it’s been known to happen, they show up ready to support one another in sport, they understand loyalty, they are straight forward and can assist their friends in moving on, they are non-judgmental.  I’m not sure women understand these things but do they have to?  Our friendships work for us, theirs work for them.  When they need something else from friendship, like say expressing emotion, they will turn to their wives (if they have them), girlfriends (if they are past the stage of having to prove themselves) or women like me who are just there to listen with an open heart to their friends who need to say it out loud.  I know like I know that men have a thing or two to learn from women but I also know they’ve got each other’s back when it comes right down to it.